During the 1840s and 1850s, the United States was preoccupied with the attainment of new hand in the west and how to settle the status of whether there lands would be free or slave states.
As a result of the Mexican War, the U. S. men vast new land holdings in the West, fueling a debate between the North and South over the extensions of slavery into the West. This sectional strife over slavery’s extension was a major factor in the eventual commencement of the Civil War.Through accentuating divisions between the North and South over the control of Western lands, the debate over slavery’s extension clearly influenced the Civil War’s coming.
After the U. S. secured vast new land holdings in the Mexican War, the South and North fiercely the contested these lands and moved further apart, highlighting sectional strife. When Northern congressmen supported the Wilmot Proviso banning slavery in all new Western territories, the Southern congressmen mounted fierce resistance, and this polarizing bill accelerated divisions between the two regions.
Although the Compromise of 1850 attempted to reconcile those differences by endorsing the principle of popular sovereignty, whereby western lands had the right to determine for themselves whether they would be free or slave states, the fight to influence the decisions of territories populations on the slavery issued continued. Also, the presence of the Free-Soil Party as a movement opposed to slavery’s expansion in the late 1840s and early 1850s shows the impact of the slavery debate on the nation’s politics.In addition, the Gadsden Purchase of the Mesilla Valley in the Southwest for the construction of a southern continental railroad route fueled the debate over whether the railroad should be built there or through free territory illustrating how crucial the slavery debate was to both the North and South because each region united to dominate the economic development of the West. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and Dred Scott decision accelerated the slavery debate and accentuated tensions between the North and South, pushing the U.S.
closer to the Civil War. Passed in 1854 as a compromise bill, the KansasNebraska Act established popular sovereignty in the two territories of Kansas and Nebraska, sparking a fight over whether they would choose to be free or slave states. In addition, the Kansas-Nebraska Act overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had held the nation together by pacifying both regions, by allowing slavery north of the 36’30 line.So, this law caused an uproar in the North, leading to an increasingly polarized political environment in which neither side was willing to compromise. Consequently, both pro-slavery and anti-slavery partisans flooded Kansas and battled in the “Bleeding Kansas” conflict over whether the territory would be a free state or slave state.
After the debate turned violent, with bloody episodes like antislavery partisan John Brown’s organized massacre of proslavery forces in the 1856 Pottawatomre Massacre, the North and South forces became even more apart.In addition, when the Supreme Court issued the 1857 Dred Scott decision that essentially opened up the West to unlimited expansion of slavery, Northern abolitionists, Northern Democrats and Free-soilers united around the Republican Party, which was strengthened politically by the North’s reaction to the Court’s decision. The Republican Party’s formation and the victory in the 1860 presidential election of its nominee, Abraham Lincoln, continued South Carolina to initiate the Southern states’ rush out of the US when it seceded in December 1860 in response to fears that Lincoln would attempt the outlawing of slavery in all Western lands.So, the debate over slavery’s extension clearly was the prime cause for the start of the Civil War. By pushing the North and South to opposite sides, and by creating a polarizing environment, the debate over slavery’s extension into the West was a major motivator for the Civil War. The debate which caused fierce political fights over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott decision, Gadsden Purchase and Wilmot Proviso, truly accentuate sectional strife.
The Southern states’ decision to secede and the subsequent start of the Civil War the following year are a clear consequence of the debate.